WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. House of Representatives Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi was re-elected to her post on Wednesday despite a challenge from a Rust Belt congressman who said the party needed new leadership after a disappointing showing in elections this month.
Pelosi, 76, a Californian who has been in Congress for 30 years and led the party in the House for 14 of them, defeated 43-year-old Tim Ryan, a seven-term representative from the Youngstown area of northeastern Ohio in a 134-63 vote, aides said.
U.S. voters elected Republican Donald Trump to the White House and Republicans kept their majorities in the House and Senate in the Nov. 8 elections.
Ryan, in challenging Pelosi for the leadership job, said the party needed to do a better job of reaching out to the working-class voters who backed Trump in large numbers, and complaining about the Democrats’ track record under her guidance.
Ryan said the Democrats have only been in the majority in the House of Representatives for four of the past 18 years. Ryan and other Democrats are angry the party did not do better on Nov. 8, when Trump won the White House and Republicans gained only about a half-dozen seats in the House, when some had predicted double-digit wins.
Ryan told reporters that Democrats came out of the election united. “We got the message out that we wanted to get out, and that’s that as Democrats we need to talk about economics,” he said. “If we’re going to win as Democrats we need to have an economic message that resonates in every corner of this country.”
Pelosi, a San Francisco congresswoman, had claimed the support of two-thirds of the caucus before Wednesday’s leadership election. Only about a dozen Democrats publicly supported Ryan ahead of the vote, which was held by secret ballot.
(Reporting by Susan Cornwell; Editing by David Alexander and James Dalgleish)
IMAGE: U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) holds a weekly news conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington January 7, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst